HUNSLET Hawks boss Barry Eaton reckons there is plenty of time yet for rival clubs to break the stranglehold of the big three in Championship One.
Eaton brings his side to Huntington Stadium tomorrow on the back of six straight wins, pierced only by a Challenge Cup defeat to Super League giants Wigan, since their only league defeat of term, at home to York City Knights back in March.
The Knights, in turn, have lost only twice this year, including last week’s narrow reverse at third-placed Oldham, who likewise are in the mix at the top of the table.
But Eaton insists his side are not counting their chickens when it comes to breezing into the promotion play-offs and believes the division may see a few more upsets prior to the grand final in the autumn which will decide who goes up.
He thinks Gateshead, for one, could come into the equation given their takeover by rugby union big-guns Newcastle Falcons.
“Things are going okay for us but we’re not getting carried away,” he told The Press in the run-up to tomorrow’s summit meeting, adding that the game was not about gaining revenge for their March reverse.
“York beat us fair and square, proving they’re a formidable side, but like on that day there will be no trophies handed out for winning this weekend.
“It’s an important game and both sides want to win but the be all and end all is the end-of-season play-offs and which team wins the grand final.
“We’re building towards that. We’re almost at the half-way point of the season and we want to play well and win and keep our winning form, but the trophies are handed out in the play-offs.”
He added: “As the season’s unfolding, a few teams are coming out and improving and making good changes in terms of personnel, with some of the expansion clubs getting to grips with Championship One.
“Gateshead might start trying to make significant signings after the takeover by Newcastle Falcons.
“They might be in the market for players.
“I think it will be a case where whoever makes the play-offs will have a chance.”
As for tomorrow’s match, Hunslet will virtually be at full-strength with dangerman Danny Maun back in the centres after injury and Luke Stenchion, one of several ex-Knights in the ranks, in contention after being “rotated out” for last week’s win over Gateshead.
Hunslet: from Stuart Kain, Lee Brickwood, Danny Maun, Aston Wilson, Andy Ballard, James Coyle, Danny Ansell, James Houston, David March, Michael Haley, Brooke Broughton, John Oakes, Liam Mackay, Danny Grimshaw, Liam Hood, Aaron Lyons, Lewis Reed, Jim Watson, Luke Stenchion.